India is witnessing a rapidly growing urban population (590 million by 2030) and increasing motorization rate (55 million in 2001 to 196 million in 2016) fuelled by a healthy economic growth. We are reaching critical levels of demand supply gap of public transport (230 buses per million, required 600 buses per million), creating diminishing ridership in public transport (less than 20% people use public transport). All of these is contributing to heavy traffic congestion and high pollution levels in urban cities. India’s need for efficient and integrated public transportation systems, to reduce unsustainable number of personal vehicle on the roads, is more imminent than ever.
The above woes are pushing authorities to develop sustainable solutions, such as the Smart Cities Scheme or Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), which lay heavy focus on improving urban mobility and public transport systems. To meet these objectives, the government has considerably invested in mass transportation schemes such as metro rail, Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). However, such schemes keep operating independently and seldom integrate with each other.
According to one estimate from World Bank, $500 bn investment will be required for upgrading Indian Transportation. Government smart cities project would possibly spend $10 bn only on transportation. An estimated $30 bn investment is planned for building metros in 24 cities. Such high spends cannot be catered by the government alone. We need an integrated mechanism that enables commuters to use public transport providing higher convenience, thus increasing the ridership in public transport, and hence the revenue for the government. The government, transport operators and service providers should all work together towards a sharing ecosystem. Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) is one such mechanism that will allow utilization of all modes keeping passenger in the center of things.